Muse: to reflect, contemplate, to
meditate in silence on some subject.
Many times when we are grieving we may hear words of encouragement before we are offered words or gestures of comfort. We may hear things like, “You will get through this” or “Try to stay busy.” This can be uncomfortable for the bereaved as they feel like they are being encouraged to “do” rather than to feel. We must remember that our grief doesn’t need to be fixed. It needs to be felt and expressed as well as witnessed and comforted so we can begin to heal.
When we become comfortable with our own feelings we can then learn to comfort others.
May we walk gently with each other on this journey.
A nomad is defined as someone who doesn’t have a permanent residence, who travels from place to place to place. Someone who doesn’t stay in the same place for any length of time. A wanderer, a rambler, a pilgrim.
After the loss of my son, Jason, I became a nomad without ever leaving home. I wasn’t “houseless” but my internal sense of home was gone. Within I was a nomad.
Inwardly I felt like a vast open space, empty and devoid of meaning. The highways and byways that I had to navigate were within. They took me into this wide-open space where I rambled, drifted, and wandered, as I searched for some sense of what had vanished inside. Traveling these internal highways took me to places I had never been before, places that I didn’t even know existed. Some of the roads were long, dark, and never-ending. Others were narrow with hairpin mountain curves. Some were dead ends. It took quite some time to find stretches of road that were relatively smooth. Even if I found a stretch of smooth road it wouldn’t last very long and then I would be back trying to maneuver in the dark or on some hairpin curve.
As I wandered these roads I came upon some breathtaking scenery as well as desolate landscapes I never wanted to visit again in my life but knew that I probably would have to whether I wanted to or not.
In my wanderings, I came upon the depths of my despair as well as the depths of my loneliness, and my fear. I had never been to these places before. I approached them with trepidation wondering what I would find there. To my surprise, I found more of me—more inner strength, compassion, and wisdom that I didn’t even know existed in me.
Also in my meandering, I came into contact with my expectations of life, the way I thought life should be. Expectations such as children don’t die before their parents. Or that certain family and friends would be there for me in my grief and it was very painful for me to discover that this isn’t always true. Also, I had this expectation that if you were a good person good things would happen to you. In examining my expectations and learning to let them go I have learned to live life on life’s terms instead of resisting what is.
I also visited the memories I have of my son and who he was and how he made a difference in this world. Who he was lives on in me.
As I traveled from place to place to place within myself I watched and felt the pain as my inner landscape was being rearranged.
My inner wanderings have taken me to so many unknown places and continue to do so ten years later. I no longer feel so much like a nomad within but this journey has transformed me and continues to do so. This grief journey is never over. It just continues to reveal more and more of who we are.
The movie Nomadland looks at the nomadic way of life. It isn’t an easy life but it is an authentic life. The people who live this way have faced many hardships and have chosen to leave the prescribed way of life for a life that feels more true to them. At one point in the movie, the main character, Fern, says as she is reminiscing about her late husband, “What’s remembered, lives. I maybe spent too much of my life remembering.” Then Bob, who she is talking to says, “There’s no final goodbye. I just say, ‘I’ll see you on down the road’ and I’m always certain I will see people again. Even my own son who took his own life five years ago I know, I will see him on down the road again and we will remember our lives together then.”
I do believe that what’s remembered lives and it is my great hope that I will see Jason on down the road again and we will definitely remember the life we lived together…as we continue on down the road.
The Written Word
There are many ways to express our grief and putting our thoughts, feelings, and ideas on paper can be a very healing process. The suggested prompts here can be done one time or multiple times. I’ve learned it helps to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and keep your pen moving for the entire time. I encourage using pen and paper rather than a keyboard as there is a hand/heart connection when writing longhand. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar, just write. When the timer goes off you stop writing even if you are in mid-sentence. Don’t reread your work at this time. Just set it aside for a couple of weeks and then go back and see what your words may have to say to you.
(If you choose to use a keyboard the same instructions apply).
Try this writing prompt:
How has your inner landscape been rearranged by grief?
I will list some books, articles, poems, movies, or other resources that I as well as others have found helpful on this grief journey. I hope these resources may deepen your understanding of grief, maybe bring you some sense of comfort, and help you to feel less alone in your grief.